Truck driver saves choking mother in front of her 2 kids on side of I-55 in Bolingbrook

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Saturday, November 11, 2023
Truck driver saves choking mother on side of highway
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Ozinga truck driver Jeff Hanus saved a choking woman who pulled over at his Bolingbrook worksite on I-55 with two toddlers in the backseat of her car.

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- A truck driver jumped into action to save a choking woman who had stopped by the side of the highway to signal for help as her two children sat in the car.

A truck-mounted camera captured the moment of desperation.

"Instinct took over. I try to live my life both from my heart and my gut, and that's what was in control," said Jeff Hanus, truck driver.

Hanus pours concrete for the company Ozinga. He was at a job site on Saturday, Nov. 4, off I-55 in Bolingbrook when an unknown woman, whose face ABC7 has blurred, drove up to his parked truck.

"She raises her hands towards her throat. And that's the international sign for choking," he said. "So I asked, 'Are you choking?' And she clearly said yes."

Hanus performed the Heimlich maneuver, thrusting his fists into her abdomen once, then twice, dislodging what was choking her.

The woman, still in shock, returned to her vehicle where Hanus said two toddler were in the back.

"Then it hit me that if this would have went wrong, it could have went really, really wrong," Hanus said. "What if she passed out, and the vehicle flipped?"

It was also a reminder of someone he's lost. A few years ago his good friend died from choking, and that incident brought home the importance of learning the Heimlich maneuver.

The retired Army sergeant from Hazel Crest is grateful the woman found him in a sea of traffic.

"Her angels and my angels got together, and it worked out," he said.